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Colorado’s Ken Buck: No more tax breaks for Hollywood hush money

Author: Dan Njegomir - November 15, 2017 - Updated: November 16, 2017

Harvey Weinstein, left; Kevin Spacey. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP; Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Not to be outflanked by the crush of support for victims of sexual harassment, 4th Congressional District Colorado U.S. Rep. Ken Buck announced this week he is seeking to prohibit tax subsidies for legal settlements related to sexual assault or sexual harassment.

The Greeley Republican, a former prosecutor, offered the proposal as an amendment to the pending Republican tax-cut plan in Congress. The amendment “would eliminate business expensing for legal settlements, fines, fees, and legal expenses associated with sexual assault and sexual harassment,” according to a press announcement by his office:

When companies pay settlements and legal fees in the regular course of their business, these costs can typically be written off as ordinary and necessary business expenses. In allowing these businesses to expense the cost of resolving legal issues, the tax code makes it less financially costly for the business to engage in or allow activity that draws lawsuits. In Hollywood, this means that when companies settle a sexual harassment or sexual assault case and then deduct that settlement from their tax liability, the American taxpayer effectively subsidizes those companies’ costs of covering up the illegal behavior.

A recent rash of sexual harassment and even sexual assault allegations have been leveled at some of Hollywood’s high and might, notably producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey. More recently, state Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, has been accused of sexually harassing fellow state Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster.

Buck is quoted in the press release from his office:

“America has been watching Hollywood for decades, but not watching closely enough. Behind the red carpets and glitzy premieres is a culture of deceit and depravity. As Congress rethinks our tax code, we need to rethink the way we treat Hollywood by eliminating the business expense deduction for hush money associated with sexual assault and sexual harassment cases …”

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.